18 Aug 2006

Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?

Who will rid me of this troublesome priest? England's King Henry II said that in the presence of four knights, who took it literally as a royal command and the politically "meddlesome" Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, was subsequently murdered in 1170.

Modern day Singapore. Since the 1990s, the PAP regime posted signs everywhere that they want SDP's Chee Soon Juan silenced. Who will rid me of this troublesome priest? Maybe Justice Belinda Ang. Maybe the Straits Times and the other local media. Maybe the instruments of the regime like the ISD and the police. The PAP probably never told the media, the courts and the government what to do about Chee. But they probably made pig faces, grunting noises and winked. The supposedly politically-neutral media, courts and government then carried out the instructions of the PAP regime that were never given. They did what the PAP wanted them to do but cannot say.

But not High Court Justice Woo Bih Li who disqualified himself from the case on Chee Soon Juan and others for speaking in public without a permit. In the interest of justice, although it is never said openly, but deep down inside, Justice Woo probably chose not to get himself into what is seen as a politically-inspired court case.

The closing of the Martyn See Singapore Rebel film case is another example that the government might be tired of the charade. Similarly, only a few months ago, the James Gomez's GE blunder and the resultant police warning despite the blustering of the regime leaders showed that the government is tired of playing Master and Puppets.

Dissent is finally becoming public, although slowly, in the courts and the government. These institutions are gradually asserting their neutrality in the PAP vs opposition saga. Why the change in heart? As the government recently created restrictions for the foreign media, it clearly means that the foreign media's role in leading Singaporeans to political enlightenment by truthful reporting is pivotal and the PAP fear it. Foreign NGOs and media interest in free and fair politics in Singapore is paving the way for constructive political change at home.

There is no better way to give this political transformation a boost than the coming IMF World Bank September meeting. The world is watching very closely at Singapore then. The PAP fears such prying eyes because they know that the government, media and court would withdraw their support if these three institutions know their actions are scrutinised by the world. During the IMF World Bank meeting, the courts, media and the government might be at their most neutral and this could be the chance for Singaporeans to speak up and smile wide for the right reasons.

Who will rid me of this troublesome priest? And the knights looked at each other and looked away, pretending not to hear.


Anonymous said...

very optimistic

Anonymous said...

Who will rid us of the LEEches?

Anonymous said...

They cannot escape the eyes of the international community even with their false pretences of democracry. IMF know for sure that there is no real justice in Singapore but they are keeping one eye close for their own benefits.

The only hope we have now is to wait for the next election. But the menality of Singaporeans is such that this hope is as slim as slim could be.

Anonymous said...

Singapore's Home Ministry and Judicial Apparatchik made freaking jackasses

Dr Chee Soon Juan has already said it, and got $6,000 plus a day in the slammer (altogether a week in lieu) for it. So would I dare mouth it too? Why not? It's already gotten too bloody obvious for all and sundry except the most insistently thick skinned to ignore. The judicial apparatchik and the whole system of rule of law in Singapore can no longer be deemed to be impartial and independent. Familial relationships, networking, wealth, and even ethnic origin, has so colored the concept of equal justice for all to such an extent that assertions such as "nobody can be allowed to swing their arm save short of someone else's nose" turn rancid the second it leaves Wong Kan Seng's lips. Absolute power and corruption are such moot bedfellows.

You don't need to be a Nobel Laureate to be able to reason, when double murders are committed, one after the other, with a relatively short lapse of time in between, by one and the same person, that even if it wasn't beyond reasonable doubt the first murder was pre-meditated, the second can but only be deemed to be, unless it can be proven that it was committed with a weapon of mass destruction, the murderer had genocidal tendencies, or else transforms into something uncannily green and insurmountably strong like the HULK when provoked. In other words, the motivation for the second murder is pivotal in determining whether pre-meditation can conceivably be construed for both. The burden should then be on the defense to positively prove lack of motive for the second murder in the backdrop of the first (including the motive of silencing a witness that could produce a potentially damning 'frontline' insight into the initial murder). The defense could of course then attempt to allude to the possibility that the murders may not have been committed by one and the same person. Lightning has been known to strike twice, but in such dastardly close timing and proximity? I'll buy that argument when I win Lotto America.

Two double murder trials involving Singapore and Australia have ended, pending appeals. The following reports were lifted off two blogs, here and here where I also left comments.

Friday, August 04, 2006
Australian prosecutor seeks two life sentences for Tiwary's double murder

Australian prosecutors have asked the Sydney Supreme Court to sentence 27-year-old Singaporean Ram Tiwary to spend the rest of his life behind bars for the double murder of his two Singaporean flat mates.

Sentencing submissions were heard on Thursday and the Supreme Court will hand down Tiwary's sentence later this year.

Tiwary had been convicted of bludgeoning to death his two flat mates - fellow Singaporeans Tan Poh Chan and Tay Chow Lyang.

All three men had shared an apartment near the University of New South Wales, where they were students.

Crown Prosecutor Tim Hoyle asked the court to sentence Tiwary to two concurrent life sentences without parole.

But defense lawyer Peter Doyle argued for a shorter 30-year jail sentence.

He stressed that Tiwary had no previous convictions and was a decent young man till the double murder in September 2003.

While the judge agreed that the murders "came out of the blue", he had serious reservations about Tiwary's character.

Foreshadowing a harsh sentence, the judge, Justice Michael Adams, made it clear that he viewed Tiwary as a dangerous man.

He described the two murders as acts of extreme wickedness and it followed that the perpetrator was an extremely wicked man.

The judge also noted that Tiwary had waited before committing the second murder, suggesting a degree of pre-meditation.

Regardless of the sentence handed down, defense sources say Tiwary plans to appeal his conviction.

ST June 30, 2006
Prosecution gets what it asked for in McCrea case
By Chong Chee Kin

THE Michael McCrea case is special, almost as special as the relationship he shared with the man he killed.

First, the Australian government asked the Singapore Government to promise it will not execute McCrea if he is extradited. Then it became apparent that he would not have faced the gallows anyway, since the charges brought against him would not have led to an execution on conviction.

McCrea's lawyer Kelvin Lim dismissed the suggestion that the charges were reduced because of the Government's promise to Australia. He insists that the facts support his argument that McCrea did not commit murder.

'It's quite clear that it is not murder. How can it be murder when there was a sudden and grave provocation from the victims? McCrea was attacked and hit back in self-defense,' he said.

Truth be told, I was remanded at IMH twice (two and three weeks) for observation. The shrinks there have condemned me as a paranoid schizophrenic, the most serious type there is (but not requiring institutionalization nor supervision? and with me simply refusing to take medication? maybe they prefer me to dig my own grave and save the expense to keep me alive?), that I probably see a murder in every death. This can hardly be true. I rarely pay attention to murder reports, double murders included. I hardly read the papers anymore. It was only when the trial of Michael McCrea ended, and I read the reference to it on Mr Wang's blog, and the ridiculous ST report that it irked. But it was the guilty verdict pronounced on Ram Puneet Tiwary that got the 'ink' flowing. So the reports above and below are actually new to me. In my not too humble opinion, if IMH and Wong Kan Seng would condescend to allow me to hold any form of opinion, double murders are open and shut cases, that is, unless I win Lotto America. Pre-meditation does not simply impute intent and planning. Pre-meditation includes fudging the details to make it possible to mount a credible defense when the case eventually goes to trial, and (sometimes) the disposure of the body. I'll try my level best to forego direct local media takes, and lift only from blog scoops and independent newscasts. At least what I managed to find.

(no spell-checks hereafter)

By Chris Summers
BBC News Online

A wealthy British businessman in Australia is fighting extradition to Singapore where he could face the death penalty if convicted of a bizarre double murder.

Michael McCrea, 44, from Nottingham, left his luxury apartment in Singapore's Balmoral Park district in January only days after his chauffeur, Kho Nai Guan, 46, and a Chinese woman known only as Miss Susan were found strangled.

Their decomposing bodies were found in a car parked in Orchard Towers, a seedy corner of Singapore popular among American sailors trawling for Thai and Filipino prostitutes.

Whoever killed them left dried flowers and other love tokens around the body of the woman, who is believed to be an illegal immigrant and was Mr Kho's girlfriend.

Straits Times reporter Chong Chee Kin said love letters, a champagne glass and a corkscrew were among the items found in the car.

Singapore says it has a prima facie case against Mr McCrea, a successful investment adviser and tax expert who was arrested in Melbourne in May along with his personal assistant Audrey Ong, 22.

But Mr McCrea has protested his innocence and has written to an Australian newspaper reporter giving his version of events.

Sue Hewitt, a reporter with the Sunday Herald Sun, told BBC News Online: "He said his chauffeur was involved with the Triads (Chinese organised criminals) and had gambling debts.

"He said he was there with Miss Ong when there was a knock at the door and two men with Samurai swords came in and chopped him on the head and hand."

She said: "He said he passed out in a pool of blood and when he came to the men had taken Mr Kho and his Chinese girlfriend."

Ms Hewitt said: "According to the prison authorities he does have injuries which are consistent with that claim."

Singapore has one of the highest per capita rates number of executions in the world with around 25 people a year being hanged for murder or drug trafficking.

The government has promised Australia it will waive the death penalty if Mr McCrea is returned and convicted.

But his solicitor, Erskine Rodan, said the Singapore government was not able to guarantee this undertaking because the judiciary was independent.

Mr Rodan said: "In the past the president has commuted some death sentences but never in a case like this."

He said it was the first time Singapore had sought to extradite a foreigner for trial on a capital murder charge and he said he had grave misgivings about Singapore's undertaking not to impose a death penalty.

Mr McCrea and Miss Ong face a four-day extradition hearing in Melbourne in November.

Mr McCrea was arrested when police attended a domestic dispute at his home in Melbourne, where he lived with his Australian wife, Brunetta, who is five months pregnant, and his son Callum, who is three.

They checked his passport and then discovered he was wanted in Singapore.

Mr McCrea, who was known in Singapore as Mike Townsend, ran a company called April Investments which helped many British and Australian expatriates with their tax problems.

The publisher of The Expat magazine, in which he advertised, said Mr McCrea was appealing to the 100,000 British, American and Australian expatriates who work in Singapore.

Chris Cheney said: "He was advising people on how to reduce their tax exposure when they returned home."

Because many expats receive tax-free salaries and other benefits, they often face large tax bills when they move back to their home countries.

Mr McCrea, a former life assurance salesman in Nottingham who moved to the Far East in the 1980s, advised clients on how to use offshore accounts to avoid tax.

Mr Cheney said there was no suggestion Mr McCrea was doing anything illegal.

Australian law will not allow anyone - whether or not they are an Australian citizen - to be extradited if they face the death penalty.

Mr McCrea's barrister Greg Hughan told BBC News Online: "We are opposing the extradition application. In fact we are busting for a fight."

He said: "Mr McCrea is a British citizen, originally from the Nottingham area, and he says he wants to go back to Britain."

Mr Rodan said his client, who was being held in Port Phillip prison near Melbourne, was "tense and agitated" as he waited to learn his fate.

The last time a British citizen was executed in Singapore was in 1996, when Londoner John Scripps was hanged for the murder of a South African engineer.

By Chris Summers
BBC News Online

A British businessman facing extradition to Singapore for a double murder has written to BBC News Online from jail in Australia to protest his innocence.

"There is a lynch mob waiting for me in Singapore," writes British businessman Michael McCrea in a letter from his Australian prison cell.

Mr McCrea, 44, a Falklands War veteran from Nottingham, is living through a nightmare and sees no end in sight.

He denies murdering two people in Singapore - one of whom was not only a Triad but also a member of the ruling People's Action Party - and is terrified of being extradited back there to stand trial.

Mr McCrea said he had received "zero help" from the British High Commission in Melbourne and had no response to a letter to Prime Minister Tony Blair.

He faces an extradition hearing on 12 November and he fears Australia will believe Singapore's assurances about not executing him if he is found guilty.

Mr McCrea writes from his cell in Port Philip prison near Melbourne: "The trial is already a foregone conclusion...I need some help. I need public opinion behind me.

"How can a British citizen be sent to a Third World country which still carries the death penalty on two charges of homicide when the only mandatory punishment is death."

Ten months ago Mr McCrea was living a life of luxury in Singapore, running a successful business and looking forward to a growing family.

But everything changed one night in January when there was a knock at the door of his luxury apartment in Singapore's Balmoral Park district.

Mr McCrea said he was attacked with a cleaver - receiving severe injuries to his head and hand - and left for dead.

When he recovered consciousness he found his chauffeur, Kho Nai Guan, 46, and the chauffeur's Chinese girlfriend were missing.

They were later found strangled in the Daewoo Chairman limousine which Mr Kho used to chauffeur around Mr McCrea.

Their decomposing bodies were found in a car parked in Orchard Towers, a seedy corner of otherwise squeaky-clean Singapore.

Australian Philip Stearman, who shared a cell with Mr McCrea for several months after his arrest in May this year, said he was a "bloody nice guy" who was being framed for a crime he did not commit.

He said Mr McCrea had wounds - included a four-inch gash on his forehead - which were consistent with his story.

1 Jan 2002: McCrea says he was attacked by Triads who took away Mr Guan
5 Jan: Mr McCrea, with Miss Ong, flies to London for medical treatment
7 Jan: The bodies of Mr Guan and his girlfriend found
29 May: Mr McCrea arrested in Melbourne
12 Nov: Mr McCrea faces extradition hearing

Mr Stearman, speaking from his home in the Australian outback, said: "Never mind the trial, he won't last 15 minutes in a Singapore jail.

"The Singapore newspapers have accused him of being a rapist, a conman, a tax fraud, a woman basher and one of the victims was a Triad.

"Gang members in jail will have read the papers just like everyone else and they think he has killed one of their own. If he is sent back to Singapore you may as well send flowers."

He said he understood Mr McCrea's co-accused Audrey Ong had changed her initial statement - which had supported his version of events - after the Singaporean Government allowed her relatives to visit her in Australia.

Mr Stearman said: "I really feel sorry for him. I know when someone is being set up and he has been set up a treat."

He said Mr McCrea had only learned after Guan's death that he was a Triad who owed thousands of pounds in gambling debts to other gangsters and also took a synthetic drug called ice.

"Mick told me he gave Guan a S$26,000 Christmas bonus only a few days before all this happened," said Mr Stearman.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman told BBC News Online: "Our consular office are in contact with him and his next of kin, his spouse."

She said: "We cannot intervene in the extradition. It is a matter between Singapore and Australia. We have no locus to intervene.

"Our interest is to ensure that he has proper legal representation and is properly looked after in prison."

Steven Jacobi, of Fair Trials Abroad, said that while Singapore's criminal justice system was generally considered fair it did have a record of pursuing political enemies of the ruling party.

ABC Local Radio
Federal Government faces tough extradition decision
PM Archive - Tuesday, 15 July , 2003 18:18:00
Reporter: Natasha Simpson

TANYA NOLAN: The Federal Government is facing a sensitive decision on whether to extradite a man to Singapore, which lawyers fear could result in his death.

British national Michael McCrea is wanted over a double-murder, and his lawyers believe Singaporean Government assurances he won't be executed, aren't legally enforceable.

They want the Australian Government to ensure Mr McCrea will have time to appeal if his extradition is ordered. But the Attorney-General's office has told them there'll be no grace period.

NATASHA SIMPSON: Michael McCrea was working in Singapore when his chauffer and the driver's girlfriend were found murdered. The British expat has strenuously denied killing them but after the incident he fled to Melbourne, where his wife and two children live, and was detained over visa irregularities.

Late last year, a Melbourne Magistrate found McCrae was eligible for extradition but Justice Minister Chris Ellison has to approve his return to Singapore. The double-murder charge carries a mandatory death sentence and Australian policy prohibits the extradition of someone facing a capital offence.

While the Singaporean Government has given an undertaking McCrae won't be executed, his lawyer, John Maitland, has shown ABC News constitutional advice suggesting his client could still be sent to his death.

JOHN MAITLAND: We have had advice from a Queen's Counsel here in Melbourne, Mr Gerry Nash, and it's backed up by some leading academics in Singapore that by operation of the Singapore Constitution, no undertaking or assurance can provide a watertight undertaking.

In other words, the assurance - we haven't even received an undertaking - the assurance from the Government of Singapore would not guarantee to either our government or Mr McCrae that he would not have the death penalty carried out.

NATASHA SIMPSON: It's advice the President of the Australian Council for Civil Liberties, Terry O'Gorman says the Government should take very seriously.

TERRY O'GORMAN: When Australia is likely to be party to an extradition which has a high probability of someone being put to death in another country, the Australian Government has to proceed extremely carefully, and very much with a focus on our long-standing policy of not extraditing people to countries where the death penalty is likely.

NATASHA SIMPSON: Justice Minister Chris Ellison says he's waiting for advice on the new information before him.

CHRIS ELLISON: Australia has no reason to doubt that a country like Singapore would not stick to its word, and we've had undertakings in the past from countries who have abided by them. We have not had any experience where an undertaking has not been adhered to be another country.

NATASHA SIMPSON: McCrae's legal team fears if an extradition warrant is signed, Singaporean authorities will act before any appeal can be considered and John Maitland says advice from the Attorney-General's office indicates there won't be a period of grace for legal intervention to stop them.

JOHN MAITLAND: What concerns us is that if in fact a decision went against Mr McCrae the Singapore authorities, if they have a member here in Melbourne, could jump in their hired car, go out to the jail with a warrant for the release of Mr McCrae and have him bundled on a Singapore Airlines jet off to what we would say is an unfair trial in the gallows without affording Mr McCrae any time to have the court review the minister's decision, which could in fact be quite wrong.

NATASHA SIMPSON: Mr Maitland maintains if his client is sent anywhere, he should be deported to Britain for visa offences.

The British High Commission says it can't intervene in the process, but if Mr McCrae is deported to England, the British Government would seek absolute assurances from Singaporean authorities that he wouldn't face capital or corporal punishment if he was sent back to Singapore, assurances they would likely accept.

TANYA NOLAN: Natasha Simpson with that report, and there'll be more on that story in ABC TV news at seven o'clock.


The way things are going, 2005 may be the year of murder trials and the death penalty. There have been a number of cases raising troubling questions.

PP vs Took Leng How
On 26 August 2005, Took Leng How was sentenced to death for the murder of 8-year-old Huang Na on 10 October 2004. Took was a vegetable packer at a wholesale market and was acquainted with Huang Na's mother, as the woman had once worked there. The girl herself knew Took well and they often played together.

That fateful week, the mother, Huang Shuying, 27, was back in China. She had left Huang Na in the care of her flatmate Li Xiuqin, another Chinese national. Around midday on 10 October 2004, Li allowed Huang Na to go out to make a phone call to her mother, but that was the last she saw of the girl. Apparently, Took met her and they played together in a storeroom where he worked, and where she was killed.

What troubled me was that motive had not been established, without which it seemed unwise to assume that the killing had been pre-planned. Nor was there any evidence that Took had taken steps to plan for the murder, such as procuring a weapon in advance. The judge, Lai Kew Chai, said in his verdict,

56 ....In reaching such a conclusion, I make no finding with regards to whether the accused had in fact sexually assaulted the deceased. Discovering the motive of the killing is not essential to a finding that the accused had indeed caused the death of the deceased and had committed murder.

The defence had raised this point about there being no demonstrable motive, and instead argued that the accused was suffering from schizophrenia. Dr Nagulendran was the expert witness for the defence. However, the judge said,

66 ....The difficulty with Dr Nagulendran’s finding in this respect is that it pre-supposed the killing to be motiveless and unplanned. I am unsure of what the accused’s motives might be, but that does not mean that his acts were motiveless. Bearing in mind that the burden is on the Defence to prove diminished responsibility, if the Defence so wishes to rely on the lack of motive as an indication that the accused was mentally abnormal, it follows that the Defence must positively prove the lack of motive. This it had not done.

Is this reasonable? How can one positively prove the negative?

Not only does Singapore law mandate capital punishment upon conviction for murder, with no discretion in sentencing being allowed to the trial judges, what constitutes murder may be broader than the layman thinks. Any act that causes another's death is murder, whether or not motive is established, whether or not pre-planned, though at that very moment, there has to be intent to cause death, or the action should be such that it can reasonably be expected to cause death.

There are, in our Penal Code, 7 exceptions under which an accused can be convicted of "culpable homicide not amounting to murder", instead of simple murder. These generally relate to self-defence, passion or mental impairment. The penalty is 10 years to life, with the possibility of caning added.

The way the law has been worded, the 7 exceptions are subsidiary to the simple offence of murder. This means that the prosecution need only prove that you have killed, and by default you will get the death penalty. It is then up to the defence to prove that one of the 7 exceptions apply in order to escape the default penalty, and even then you may get life in jail, and maybe caning too. Yes, even for self-defence!

Now that I have highlighted this, most readers will realise it is quite different from how we as laymen expect the justice system to work. We mostly think that it is up to the prosecution to prove motive and premeditation in order to obtain a guilty verdict for murder, and that all the defence has to do is to show reasonable doubt.

Apparently, this is not how it is in Singapore.

PP vs Juminem and another
In this case, the defence argued successfully for diminished responsibility due to mental impairment.

Juminem was an 18 year-old domestic maid, while "another" was a 15 year-old maid. For some reason the court would not name her (because of her age?) even though the media did. Both came from Indonesia to work. Their ages given here and in the court documents referred to when the crime was committed, in March 2004.

Juminen worked for the victim, Esther Ang, 47, while Siti Aminah worked for her ex-husband. The two maids were quite close -- and were said not to have had any other friends in Singapore save each other -- since their employers, although divorced, remained on good terms and saw each other regularly.

On 2 March 2004, the two maids took turns to suffocate Ang with a pillow and used a wine bottle to hit her abdomen and head several times at her home.

The maids also faked a break-in by taking her money and valuables. Juminem then forged her employer's signature on a cheque for $25,000 payable to Siti Aminah.

Juminem had formed the intention to kill her employer, whom she considered unreasonable and oppressive, about a week before the crime. She enlisted the help of Siti Aminah.

The judge found that Juminem had been suffering from "reactive depression" as a result of stress from loneliness, financial worry and her employer's demands. The defence had quoted extensively from her diary illustrating the way her mood had changed over the months prior. She was found guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.

As for Siti Aminah, the court found that she had been under severe stress, especially from her employer's elderly mother, who had called her names and pushed her. She was also young in age, and of borderline intelligence. The judge said she was easily led along by others. She was sentenced to 10 years' jail.

Severe though those sentences were, everyone heaved a sigh of relief. If either one of them were sentenced to death, there might well be a diplomatic row between Indonesia and Singapore.

As to be expected, there are people who think that the risk of a diplomatic row impinged on the verdict. 3 men and their wives (?) at a coffeeshop where I was having lunch last week had a heated debate about it. They got so animated, before long, 4 others joined in. (In fact, it was that scene that got me interested enough to read up about this case, which I had largely ignored till then.)

Guen Garlejo Aguilar
Aguilar is another domestic maid, but from the Philippines. She is accused of murdering another Filipino maid, Jane Parangan La Puebla, last week. The body was chopped up, bagged and left near Orchard MRT station and at Macritchie Reservoir Park.

The last time a Filipino maid was found guilty of murder and hanged was in 1995. Flor Contemplacion too had murdered another Filipino maid, Delia Maga, as well as 3-year-old Nicholas Huang, son of her employer. The murders took place in 1991.

Anger swept the Philippines as the news of the execution broke. Leftist and feminist groups, human rights activists and the media denounced Singapore as a barbaric, tyrannical and totalitarian state with no respect for human rights. The Roman Catholic Church called Singapore a state without mercy.

President Ramos of the Philippines had appealed to the Singapore president for a stay of execution in order to study new evidence, but the Singapore government dismissed the "new evidence" as fabrication.

After the hanging, when the body was flown back to Manila, it was received by Mrs Ramos, the First Lady, which was quite unprecedented. Contemplacion was treated like a heroine, and more than 5,000 jammed into the small town of San Pablo where she had lived to pay their last respects.

Roman Catholic Bishop Teodoro Bacani held a requiem mass in the town's crowded cathedral for her. He told the congregation, "She is a symbol of millions of Filipinos driven by poverty to take their chances abroad...Their lot is pathetic. Their own government neglects them." There was applause from the congregation.

Given such an accusation, there was no way for Manila to appear anything other than tough with Singapore. Bilateral relations chilled for a year after that. Singapore didn't understand the social and political dynamics of an important regional partner. Our political leaders were only familiar with the cold-blooded, tightly-controlled system they had in Singapore.

Now, in the latest case, Singapore is bending over backwards to invite coroner's examiners from the Philippines to perform a joint autopsy on the deceased, to avoid future accusations of a frame up.

The Filipino government has also arranged for the accused Guen Aguilar's husband and family to travel to Singapore so that they can meet with her.

But trouble is already brewing. The judge has refused to allow the attorney hired by the Philippine embassy to meet with his client, instead permitting the police to hold Aguilar for one week for "further investigations", even though she has already been charged, which is to say, the prosecutor already thinks Aguilar murdered La Puebla.

Latest reports say the family too has been refused permission to see her while she is in custody.

On 15 September, 2005, the Straits Times reported that,

Family members of Filipino maid and murder suspect Guen Garlejo Aguilar are likely to arrive in Singapore this week, but she will not be allowed to meet them or her lawyer until police are satisfied that this will not interfere with their investigations.

Further in the same article,

The media in the Philippines has taken issue with the decision to remand Aguilar for one week without access to legal counsel, while Mr Aguilar has appealed to Philippine President Gloria Arroyo to intervene in the case.

Once more, the scene is set for Filipinos to be convinced that Singapore is heartless and our system inherently unjust. The media in that country is bewildered that the accused can't even see her lawyer.

Yet, that is our justice system. The police are allowed first go at you if you're suspected of any crime. They can interrogate you without allowing you to have a lawyer present. They can record what you say, make you sign a statement, and another, and another, without your lawyer advising you. When they record your statements, they do not provide a copy to you or your lawyer. You may next be confronted with these statements only at your trial.

This period where you are "held for investigation" seems intended to give the police an opportunity to get you to incriminate yourself, as you well might under the pressure of interrogation, devoid of assistance.

Coming back to the case, in response to the mounting concern about lack of access to Aguilar, the Singapore government had to issue a statement, as reported in the same Straits Times article.

In a statement released yesterday, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) insisted Aguilar is being treated fairly and 'no differently from any suspect or accused person who has been charged with a similar offence'.

The MHA said: 'The basic rights and needs of an accused person in custody are always strictly observed and met.

'Any accused person under police custody is accorded proper facilities and treated humanely, including the provisions for personal hygiene, food, water and access to medical treatment if needed.'

But it stressed that the investigations must not be compromised.

How does the presence of a lawyer and family visits "compromise" any investigation unless insistence on human rights and basic norms of justice are themselves seen as a hindrance to police process?

Michael McCrea
McCrea is accused of murdering his driver, Kho Nai Guan, 46, and the driver's girlfriend, Lan Ya Ming, 29, on 2 Jan 2002 at his apartment. He managed to flee to Australia before the police could issue a warrant of arrest for him, as the bodies (and the crime) were not discovered till five days later. McCrea, a British citizen, has since been fighting extradition on the grounds that the mandatory penalty for murder in Singapore is death, and Australian law does not allow extradition of any suspect to a country where he may face capital punishment.

To get around this problem, the Singapore government has given an undertaking to Australia that even if he is convicted of murder, he will not be executed. Since by law, the judge has no choice in the matter except to impose the death penalty, this undertaking can only be realised through Presidential clemency.

Even so, it begs the question of whether there is equal justice in Singapore. Will some suspects, by their special circumstances, particularly the involvement of foreign countries face a different penalty for the same crime?

On the face of things, these 4 cases appear quite different from each other. Yet each one of them reveals some troubling aspect of our laws and justice system.

The common denominator seems to be that Singapore is out of step with expected norms prevailing in many other countries. To them, and to many Singaporeans, our laws and processes appear barbaric and unjustifiably loaded against the accused.

Hence, each time a foreign government takes an interest in a case, we have to make ad hoc adjustments in order to avoid a crisis in relations. In the example of McCrea, we've had to give up the death penalty in order to get him extradited at all.

But every time we make ad hoc adjustments, we raise the question of equal justice. We raise the suspicion that the verdict might have been less grounded on facts than on diplomatic imperatives, which, as you can imagine, does wonders (sarcasm intended) for the dictum that justice should not only be done, but seen to be done.

What purpose does capital punishment serve? It doesn't even have a deterrent effect as the experience of other countries have shown. And certainly, it has no rehabilitative effect either. You're dead, man. It's just judicial revenge, stemming from a primitive view of what a justice should be.

How do we convince anyone that denying an accused person access to a lawyer is good for justice? To me, this practice seems to come from a time when the chief aim was to get confessions, by whatever means necessary.

What is holding us back from bringing our justice system up to date? Pride. Damn pride. An unwillingness by our government to admit that their thinking is archaic, that they are more inclined to making their prosecutors' jobs easy than upholding human rights. An insistence that they always know best. An insistence that while everybody else's norms may be fine for everybody else, a different sun shines on Singapore.


Murder charge student faces porn counts
August 3, 2004 - 12:15PM

A student accused of bludgeoning to death his two flatmates in Sydney is now facing 11 new charges including possession of child pornography.

Ram Puneet Tiwary, 25, appeared in Sydney's Central Local Court today charged with two counts of murder.

The Crown added 11 fresh charges including possessing child pornography, break enter and steal, larceny, making and using a false security licence, conducting a security act without a licence, making a false statement to obtain money and receiving stolen goods.

Tiwary did not apply for bail and was formally refused.

Chow Lyang Tay and Poh Chuan Tan, both 26, were found dead in the Randwick unit they shared with the accused on September 15 last year.

Both men had been hit over the head with a blunt object.

Mr Tan and Mr Tay were both married but their wives had stayed in Singapore while they studied at the University of NSW.

According to the police charge sheet tendered to the court, police found five images of girls under 16 involved in sexual activity on Tiwary's computer when the flat was searched on the night of the murders.

The other allegations included breaking into a UNSW student dormitory and stealing a computer and the theft of student identification cards and a mobile phone.

Tiwary will reappear at Central Local Court on September 14.

Sydney murder trial
Channel NewsAsia's Corey Jones in Sydney
14 September 2005 1840 hrs

A Sydney court heard on Wednesday that 28-year-old Singaporean Ram Tiwary, who is accused of murdering his two flatmates, was extremely agitated when the paramedics arrived.

In fact, the paramedics were so frightened of him that they locked themselves in their ambulance till the police arrived.

Taiwanese Vincent Tsang flew in from Taipei to testify in the Sydney murder inquiry.

He knew all three Singaporeans - the two victims and the accused - who shared an apartment near the University of New South Wales.

Mr Tsang told the court he had lived with the Singaporeans in the same first floor flat some time before the murders.

He recalled the Singaporeans had initially shared all their chores as well as household and grocery bills, but this arrangement soon broke down because all three worked different hours.

Mr Tsang recalled that the accused, Ram Tiwary, often slept in because he worked late nights as a security guard.

Earlier, Rick Irving, one of the paramedics sent to the murder scene, gave a graphic account of what he saw as they drove up.

The paramedics told how they saw Ram Tiwary approach their ambulance in an unsettled state.

There was blood on his hands and he appeared to be edgy, upset and concerned.

Mr Irving said there appeared to be dried blood on the back of Tiwary's hand.

Another paramedic, Helen Gillespie, said the ambulance team had been a little frightened when Tiwary ran up to the ambulance.

So they locked the vehicle doors and waited for the police to arrive before entering the flat.

Inside, the paramedics found both Singaporean students dead.

One had suffered significant neck trauma and blood loss, the other had a bloody wound at the back of his head.

Tiwary told the paramedics that he had been asleep when he heard a noise. He woke up, found the bodies and called the emergency services.

Several Singaporean students who knew the victims and the accused will be giving evidence over the next week.

The Newpaper
26 September 2005

Singaporean student Ram Puneet Tiwary used to be up all night and slept during most of the day.

Like vampires, Tiwary's name is linked to blood - he is accused of murdering his fellow Singaporean flatmates in September 2003.

In fact, a paramedic who arrived at the scene of the murders said he had seen blood on Tiwary's hands.

Singaporean Lee Kay Meng, who has known Ram Tiwary for several years, said he earned the nickname 'Vampire' because he liked to sleep in late after studying through the night.

Both were studying in Sydney on scholarships from the Singapore Armed Forces and had gone to parties and the casino together.

On Friday, a Sydney court decided that Tiwary will have to stand trial for the brutal killing of 27-year-old Tony Tan Poh Chuan and 26-year-old Tay Chow Lyang, in the flat they shared near the University of New South Wales.

Crown Prosecutor John Cline said Tiwary, 26, even forged his girlfriend's results and passed them off as his own.

'He lived a party life and slept all day. Wasn't he supposed to be going to lectures?', Mr Cline asked.

Tiwary's trial will start next year and more details of the horror killings and his lifestyle are expected to be revealed.

The police allege that around noon on 15 Sep, 2003, Tiwary bludgeoned Mr Tay with a baseball bat.

He then took a kitchen knife and stabbed Mr Tay a number of times. After he had placed a chair in the lounge to block the view of the body, he took a shower.

But Tiwary's lawyer disputed this, saying he did not shower and that no trace of blood was found on any of the towels in the house.

Some time later, Mr Tan walked into the house.

He is said to have been at a lecture until 1.45pm that day.

According to the police, he was attacked by Tiwary as he walked through the front door and discovered Mr Tay's body.

Tiwary is alleged to have hit Mr Tan on the face, smashing his glasses and knocking out several teeth.

Mr Tan ran back to the front door to escape. But he was again allegedly beaten - this time on the head with the bat - and then stabbed.

While Mr Tan is said to have died soon afterwards, a pathologist who conducted autopsies on the two bodies, told the court that Mr Tay may have remained alive for two hours after he was attacked.

But Tiwary had a different story to tell. He said he had received a telephone call from his girlfriend at 6.30am on the morning of the murders, got up, had breakfast and then returned to bed.

A highly emotional Tiwary told the emergency operator over the phone that he had been woken up by a screaming noise and opened the bedroom door to find two dead bodies and a baseball bat on the floor.

Tiwary made the call from his bedroom, telling the operator that there has been a murder and he needed an ambulance.

He said there was blood all over the place and that two of his friends were dead.

When the operator asked him whether his friends were definitely dead or whether they were unconscious, he again said that there was blood all over the place and that he could not tell whether they were dead.

The operator wanted to know whether Tiwary's friends were shot or stabbed.

'No, there's a baseball bat and a knife there.'

'They're bashed in completely. Yes, there's a knife lying on the ground as well,' he replied.

During the call, the operator asked Tiwary whether there was anyone else in the house.

His reply: 'Unless he's in one of the other bedroom, I don't know. But I have got a bat with me...'

Just before the conversation ended, the operator asked Tiwary if he was holding the baseball bat, and if so, to put it down.

The court heard that when it comes to personal security, especially among students, baseball bats are often the weapon of choice.

Media reports have it that Tiwary's family in Singapore is said to be concerned about his mental health and is said to have hired a forensic psychologist to examine him.

His cousin Ramesh Tiwary, a lawyer, while giving evidence, criticised the police and prosecution for being slow in calling witnesses.

A few other Singaporeans gave evidence.

Mr Lee was one of them. Although they had gone to casinos together, he said Tiwary did not have a gambling problem, although he once lost A$900 ($1,160) on a single visit a few weeks before the murders.

Another Singaporean, Mr Chaw Bak You, a friend of Mr Tay, said under cross-examination that Mr Tay was careful with his money and took note of people who owed him large sums.

He said Mr Tay had stuck a note on the back of the apartment's front door about a sum of money a former housemate, Mr Vincent Tsang, owed him. Mr Tsang, a Taiwanese, had moved out of the apartment before the murder.

A hint of a gay relationship also reared its head during the cross-examination.

Mr Chaw told the court that another friend, Mr Alan Wong, had a close relationship with Mr Tay.

He said he had seen Mr Wong frequently touching Mr Tay and that Mr Tay's wife was jealous of Mr Wong.

On Friday, the final day of the nine-day preliminary hearing, the prosecutor told the court that Tiwary had done badly in his studies and had fallen behind on his rent.

But his defence lawyer said the case against him was based largely on speculation, which included allegations that he had an argument with his flatmates over his delay in paying his share of the rent.


June 08
The Sydney Double Murder

Today's the closing of the Sydney Double Murder case. For the past few days and last week, a lot of things have been running through my mind. The two murder victims were Singaporeans students at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), to make it even more personal, one of them, Tony Tan Poh Chuan was my brother's polytechnic classmate, and they used to sit side by side in class. Both left behind a lot of emotional baggages: both were only sons, who left behind very young wives and were nearing the completion of their undergraduate courses. But of the two, the unfortunate incident has also torn apart the Tan family. It didn't do justice that his family exposed its dirty linen as well, with financial disagreement between father and daughter-in-law. The Tay family however, got on very well, and relationship was closer than ever.

I wonder what took the Australian police and forensic scientists so long to figure out the whole case. Even then they were nowhere near the standards of most developed countries in forensic science / pathology. The double murder took place in September 2003 and has yet to reach a closure. There was also no doubt that the murder accuse, Ram Tiwary was also the very person who brutally murdered his two roommates over money. His account was littered with lies, and for the most part he wasn't even consistent at all.

Everytime this kindda thing happened, my mind would reconstruct the murder with the details from the newspapers. The same thing happened with the recent rape-murder of a business executive in Malaysia, who went missing during a jog with her sister only to be found naked waist-down and dead. What a heinous thing to do, who can guarantee the safety of girls and women. The disappointments I get from visualising these murders were having to 'witness' the brutal end of the victims and being unable to see the faces of their perpetrators.

How frightening it must be for Poh Chuan to know what helplessness in the face of danger when the perpetrator closed the door which he tried to open it. All it took was a few minutes for the murderer to get the kitchen knife to finish both him and his other roommate. While I have done anything like that, I know that once a person has committed such a crime, it is very likely that he / she will commit the same thing again. Guilt doesn't haunt individuals who plotted murder. All it takes is just the intent to commit murder.

If only judicial proceedings was held in Singapore, the murderer would definitely be sent to the gallows.

It's emotionally distressing that somebody we once knew, was extinguished at the prime of his life. I wonder how my brother and his polytechnic classmates felt about the absent classmate during their gatherings. While everyone progresses in life and grow old, this friend will never grow old together with them.

Mama just told me that Poh Chuan was an intelligent individual. The way I see it intelligent people will be shortchanged but dull people have already been shortchanged.


Monday, June 12, 2006
Money, chores created friction among flatmates

The story below struck a familiar chord when I read it. Reminded me of what could have gone wrong but thankfully didn't when I was in UK. Grateful that I could stay in a hall in my first year and get to know some people first instead of jumping straight into an apartment. So for those Singaporeans who are going overseas and happen to chance upon this blog, do take care in choosing housemates! It makes a hell of a difference!

From The Straits Times

Like many foreign students, the three Singaporeans were thrown together in Sydney to set up a home away from home. Despite their very different personalities, in the seven months they stayed together, they generally got along well - until rent, bills, chores and each other's pet peeves started getting in the way.

Now the youngest of the trio, Ram Tiwary, is on trial for killing his flatmates, Mr Tony Tan Poh Chuan, 27, and Mr Tay Chow Lyang, 26, in September 2003. Tiwary was then 24.

From the 16-day hearing in a Sydney court, it was clear the three were the most unlikely of housemates. Mr Tan was studious, neat and tidy, Mr Tay obsessively careful with money, and Tiwary an inveterate socialiser.

Crown Prosecutor Tim Hoyle said there was 'very minimal social contact'. Tiwary did not even know Mr Tan's surname when first questioned by detectives.

It was the Barker Street apartment, with its relatively cheap rent and close proximity to the University of New South Wales, that drew them together. Mr Tay got a room in August 2002, soon after starting his undergraduate studies, followed by Tiwary, then Mr Tan in March 2003.

There was a fourth person in the flat, a Taiwanese student named Mr Vincent Tseng, but his departure in July that year marked the point that relations among the trio took a distinct turn for the worse.

Mr Tay was the only one of the trio paying his own way through university, dipping into the combined savings he kept with his wife, a Chinese teacher.

Tiwary and Mr Tan were both on Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) study awards.

Twice a year, Mr Tay would carefully plan his budget for the next six months. If he overspent, he would get by on biscuits just to balance his books.

The apartment lease was in his name and he was usually the one who settled all the bills.

Every month, 'like clockwork', he would pay the A$2,172 (S$2,585) rent to the landlord, then collect each flatmate's portion and issue a computer-printed receipt with his signature.

He also handled the utility bills, but his insistence on dividing the bills equally was a sore point, especially with Mr Tan, who communicated with his wife over the Internet and hardly used the house phone.

But Mr Tay was so particular that he even inserted a clause in the lease listing 'toilet paper expenses' as an item every flatmate was obliged to chip in for.

This meticulous financial husbandry grated on Tiwary too, according to the prosecution. They say Tiwary, now 27, killed Mr Tay because he kept pressing him for the A$5,045 he owed in rent.

When police combed through the trio's finances, they found Tiwary broke, with a negative 84 cents in his bank account.

His account trail showed that he made frequent withdrawals - sometimes as much as A$400 at one go. He spent most of it on clothes, model aeroplanes, alcohol and, two days before the murders, A$60 on the baseball bat used to kill at least one of the victims.

He had to work part-time as a security guard to just about keep his head above water and was also accused of a series of thefts.

Mr Tan liked to splurge, too, on hobbies like diving, but never spent beyond his means.

That Mr Tay was tough with money was no secret to his friends, who described him as 'stingy'. One recalled how he threatened to sell off Mr Tseng's belongings because he owed him A$63 in unpaid electricity bills. It was Mr Tay's refusal to let Mr Tseng skip a month's rent when he went on holiday to Europe that made the Taiwanese student leave the flat.

With a fourth person gone, the rent had to be split three ways, with each liable for an extra A$200 a month.

The prosecution said this was why Tiwary cooked up a 'fictional character', Andrew, to stop Mr Tay raising the rent.

But when Andrew never appeared after several months, Mr Tay lost his patience and wanted Tiwary to pay his imaginary friend's share of the rent.

Mr Tan, who had learnt to cook in Sydney, was the designated chef, leaving Tiwary and Mr Tay to do the washing up.

But his mother, Madam Chiew Lee Hua, said her son got so fed up with the others leaving the dishes unwashed that he refused to cook for them anymore.

From then on, they prepared their own meals or had takeaways. Grocery shopping became an individual affair and fridge items were labelled by each one.

Friends and the widows of the two slain men all said they hardly saw Tiwary in the flat. He was a night bird and a late riser, while the others were usually in bed by midnight and up by 9am.

Mr Tan and Mr Tay tended to spend their time studying. On the rare occasions they left the flat, it was to go to school or to buy essentials. They kept largely to themselves, mixing with only a small group of friends, mainly fellow Singaporeans or Asians.

Tiwary preferred hanging out with students of all nationalities.

The joke among students then was if anyone wanted to look for Tiwary, they would have better luck in pubs than on campus.

The two victims were from typical heartlander families. Both lived in three-room HDB flats, both their fathers are in the construction industry and both their mothers are part-time hawkers.

Both Mr Tan and Mr Tay studied in neighbourhood schools and got to university via the polytechnic route.

In a diary he kept while training to be an army officer, Mr Tan wrote that his motto as a youth was 'All Play and No Study'. Yet, he reversed that motto when older, and graduated with merit from Singapore Polytechnic with a diploma in architectural technology.

He was determined to do well as his parents led a hard life without a proper education, and they hoped to see their children graduate and have good careers. He aimed to reach the rank of Major by 30 and provide for his parents.

Mr Tay was a top student in the same polytechnic, which allowed him to go directly into the third year of the university's electrical engineering course.

Before he died, Mr Tay was working on a thesis on motor movement control, which could help treat people with motor function problems.

Both men were serious about their studies, rarely missed classes and were almost never late.

Mr Tan was doing so well that all his classmates in his telecommunications engineering final-year class knew he would get a first class honours.

He did, posthumously.

Mr Tay was also awarded his degree posthumously.

Tiwary, on the other hand, comes from an educated, middle-class family. He did his primary and secondary education in Brunei, where his father was a vice-principal in St Andrew's School.

He told New South Wales police he felt the pressure to do well in studies and hinted he was trying for a degree as it was 'something my dad would have wanted'.

But Tiwary was notorious for showing up midway through lectures, if at all, and failed several subjects. When asked about the $30,000 in compensation he would have to pay the SAF if he failed, he joked: 'My dad has the money, not me.'

The Barker Street second-storey apartment where the murders took place is now occupied by four Asian students.

Landlord Albert Lichia, 56, who lives in the unit below, said he could not find any students to move in for almost two years after the murders. He said: 'They were nice and friendly people, never caused me any trouble. It's such a horrible thing to happen...for all three of them.'


Ram was my platoon mate in Bravo 1 when I was in OCS. We weren’t friends but for a few months in 1998/1999, we depended on each other for support during training as did everybody else. It’s funny to think the guy who bunked next to me in Taiwan has now been convicted of a double murder. It’s hard for me to grasp the idea.

The Ram I knew wasn’t a bad guy at all. Sometimes a bit lazy. Sometimes a bit sycophantic (or "Wayang" as they say in army-speak). Not unlike any other officer cadet. Every fact about him mentioned in the article I can believe, and some, like his reputation as a ladies’ man I have even heard first hand. All except that bit about being a murderer.

I hope if he’s innocent that he will eventually be able to clear his name. Otherwise he’ll have to play with the cards he’s dealt.

The Newpaper
By Dominic Ying
June 22, 2006

Shocked, sad, and hopeful. That was how relatives felt when the jury found Ram Tiwary guilty of both murder charges.

The New Paper spoke to a close relative who grew up with him.

He was the darling of the family, the relative said.

In their eyes, he was a mentor, a ladies’ man and a sentimental son.

He was helpful and a good listener. But he could also have a temper.

And now he is a murderer, likely to be locked up for a long time, for bashing his two housemates to death in Sydney nearly three years ago.

The relative spoke on condition of anonymity, as Tiwary’s immediate family had asked all their relatives not to speak to the media.

‘Naturally, we’re wondering if the jury has made the right decision, but we’re hoping there is a chance for appeal,’ said the relative.

Tiwary had no reaction when the verdict was delivered.

‘That is him, always cool about things, you can drop a bombshell on him and he would still smile.

‘Once, when his late great-granddad collapsed, Ram was the one who took control and administered CPR,’ said the relative.

The extended family has met on several occasions since Tiwary was arrested and charged with the murders, but no one talks about the case.

‘Though his family is holding up, this period has been very tough for all of us - uncles, aunts, cousins, nephews and nieces,’ said the relative.

‘But no one has ever brought it up because it’s not going to change anything, and it only makes everyone more upset.’

When Tiwary was arrested, family members were shocked.

Tiwary had initially refused to meet anyone while in prison, even his immediate family members.

A lawyer cousin then got him to change his mind and Tiwary met his parents after months without contact.

Tiwary is the second of three sons. Their father, now retired, was the vice-principal of a school in Brunei.

His elder brother, 29, is working, while his younger brother, 20, is doing his national service.

The close-knit extended Tiwary family includes several lawyers.

‘There are very few of us here, and some are in very respectable jobs, so naturally it’s tough,’ said the relative.

‘Friends have asked questions and we really don’t know how to answer them, but we’ve grown to live with it.’

Tiwary was always looked up to by the younger ones.

‘He was always very willing to help and would take time out for you when needed. Household chores, errands...

‘Once, clothes pegs had fallen from a flat to the void deck area and he went down without being asked to retrieve them, though it wasn’t his own home.’

He would take kids to the playground and carry them onto the monkey bars, and attend to them when they were on the slides and see-saws.

‘He was also a very good listener when we needed advice or just someone to talk to,’ said the relative.

Tiwary signed on in the army as an infantry officer.

He later went to study mechanical engineering at the University of New South Wales on a Singapore Armed Forces Local Study Award.

The younger ones looked up to him as a mentor as he seemed to be good at everything, said the relative.

‘His mother was very proud of him and always told us how good a student he was in school. He was everybody’s favourite.’

When he came back to Singapore during his semester breaks, he would make it a point to visit all his relatives.

Tiwary, known to be a party animal, was apparently popular with the ladies.

‘He was very open about the girls he went out with. I don’t know how many girlfriends he’s had. He’s probably lost count too,’ the relative said.

Tiwary’s current girlfriend, Australian Elvira Metiljevic, apparently was his most serious girlfriend. He met her during his freshman year at university while she was studying aeronautical engineering, said the relative.

Tiwary’s interests included building model aeroplanes and drawing.

‘He was a perfectionist when it came to his hobbies. He took so much care in making and painting those planes that he would lose all track of time. ‘He also loved to sketch both portraits and cars,’ said the relative.

Before Tiwary went to study in Australia, he became emotional at the thought of leaving his family.

‘He dropped by all our relatives’ homes for dinner and even cried,’ recalled the relative.

But beneath all this lay a bad temper.

‘He nearly got into a fight with an uncle over some insignificant issue four years ago.

‘We were all quite shocked over his behaviour as it was really uncalled for,’ the relative said.

As the Sydney trial drew to a close, relatives were concerned about the health of Tiwary’s father.

‘He had open heart surgery about four years ago, and is still not in the best of health,’ said the relative.

Tiwary’s mother has also been reclusive since his arrest.

‘She used to be a very happy and friendly woman, always keeping in touch with her family in India.

‘Now she just prays alone every day for four to five hours at a go.’

It is believed that the legal expenses for Tiwary have amounted to half a million dollars, said the relative.

‘The elder brother was supposed to get married in an arranged marriage sometime last year but that has been delayed because of the case,’ the relative said.

Singaporean Ram Tiwary’s trial for the murders of his flatmates, Tay Chow Lyang, 26, and Tony Tan Poh Chuan, 27, on 15 Sep, 2003, lasted 16 days.

It was in Sydney’s New South Wales Supreme Court.

The two students were beaten to death in the Sydney flat they had shared with Tiwary at the time.

According to a Straits Times report, all three were officers in the Singapore Armed Forces who had been studying at the University of New South Wales.

Tiwary, pleaded not guilty when his trial began on 15 May.

A 12-man jury found him guilty of both murders yesterday.

Tiwary faces at least 40 years in prison.

The Straits Times
Sydney murders: Blood is key evidence
By Ben Nadarajan
Jun 14, 2006

In Sydney - New South Wales police believe Singaporean student Ram Tiwary killed his two flatmates over money, but whether the jury agrees or not is likely to hinge on the issue of bloodstains.

The brutal murders of Mr Tony Tan Poh Chuan and Mr Tay Chow Lyang left plenty of blood around the Barker Street apartment for Sydney detectives to analyse, and since there were no eyewitnesses, the prosecution is depending on this and circumstantial evidence to make its case.

Justice Michael Adams has commented several times that the bloodstains are ’significant, if not vital’ to the case. After a 17-day trial with over 40 witnesses, it boils down to three disputed points.

First, only Mr Tan’s blood was found on the murder weapons: an aluminium baseball bat and a kitchen knife. Forensic biologist Virginia Friedman also found Mr Tan’s DNA on both weapons, but not Mr Tay’s. This could be because the police sent her only swabs of the blood they spotted on the murder weapons for testing.

The laboratories never got to examine the weapons for blood, with equipment that can detect blood invisible to the naked eye, said Dr Friedman.

The defence’s expert witness, retired police crime scene investigator Warren Day, criticised the police for this. ‘In my era, we would have sent the whole weapon to the labs,’ said Mr Day, who retired in 1992 after 28 years on the force. ‘The police might not detect tiny specks of blood on the weapons, which the labs could.’

Defence counsel Peter Doyle got Dr Friedman and, later, crime scene investigator Philip Elliott to concede that they would have expected to find DNA of both victims on the weapons.

Detectives suggest that the blood from Mr Tay, who was attacked first, was washed off the weapons before they were later used on Mr Tan.

But if the killer had the presence of mind to wash the bat and knife the first time, why did he not do the same after killing Mr Tan?

Crime scene investigator Christopher Clarke said there was no sign of blood being washed down the sinks in the flat. Justice Adams also pointed out there were no water marks on the weapons to suggest they had been washed.

Mr Doyle has suggested that the baseball bat and knife the police seized were not the murder weapons, at least not those used on Mr Tay.

If the jury agrees, it means there could be another murder weapon and killer still out there, which would greatly weaken the prosecution’s case.

Another disputed issue is the absence of Mr Tay’s blood on Tiwary. Mr Day said he believed the man who attacked Mr Tay would ‘almost certainly’ get blood splattered on his front and perhaps even on his back, when the bloodied bat was swung backwards for subsequent strikes.

But Sergeant Elliott said blood from a victim does not always find its way onto the murderer: ‘Depending on the angle of the impact... and many other factors, the splatter might not land on any part of the assailant.’

Mr Doyle argued in his closing submissions that the absence of Mr Tay’s DNA on the accused was the ‘most striking feature of the crime scene’, and indicated his client was innocent.

Justice Adams appears to agree, describing the lack of Mr Tay’s blood on the weapons and on Tiwary a ‘mystery’ that will never be explained.

The third and perhaps most important aspect of the bloodstain evidence involves the spots of Mr Tan’s blood found on Tiwary.

When police arrived at the apartment after the murders, several red specks were on Tiwary’s hands, feet, T-shirt and shorts. Only those on his hands were obvious to the naked eye.

The police say the other stains were too small for the accused to notice, hence he did not get rid of them. As for the blood on his hands, they claim Tiwary left it there to corroborate his story about checking Mr Tan’s pulse.

They say the blood got there when Tiwary atacked Mr Tan, but Tiwary claims he was checking Mr Tan for a pulse when his dying flatmate coughed blood out onto him.

Justice Adams said this was a ‘crucial and decisive’ area that could swing the jury’s decision. No wonder, then, that the defence spent its entire case trying to establish Tiwary’s version of how the blood got there.

Blood splatter analysts could not agree on what the stains indicate. To Sgt Elliott, the blood spots were of ‘medium velocity’ type or ‘impact splatter’, the pattern of stains created when the body is struck with force.

The same kind of bloodstains were found on the wall behind where Mr Tan was assaulted, and on his feet. The police say this suggests two possibilities: Tiwary was the killer, or at the very least he was in ‘very close proximity’ when the victim was struck.

Defence counsel Doyle put forward a third possibility: When his client checked on his friend, Mr Tan’s airway became blocked and, even though he was unconscious, his body went into a reflex action and coughed out blood.

Mr Day pointed out circular smears in the blood spots, which he said were air bubbles from expirated blood.

Sgt Elliott agreed there was frothy blood on Mr Tan’s mouth, nose and throat, but none on Tiwary.

Medical experts also disagree over whether Mr Tan, with the massive injuries to his head, could expirate blood.

Forensic pathologist Johan DuFlou said it would have been impossible for someone as ‘deeply unconscious’ as Mr Tan, an argument supported by Dr Gordian Fulde, the director of emergency medicine at Sydney’s St Vincent Hospital.

Neurologist Mark Hersch, put on the stand by the defence, pointed to studies on animals that showed it is indeed possible. Dr Hersch noted that Mr Tan’s brain stem, which controls such reflexes, had not been damaged in the attack.

But, as Crown Prosecutor Tim Hoyle pointed out, the issue is not whether an unconscious man can expirate blood. The issue, and what Justice Adams called the ‘clincher evidence’, is how the blood got onto Tiwary.

If the jury concludes that it got there when Tiwary was trying to save his friend, or think there is sufficient doubt over how it got there, Tiwary will walk free.

Channel News Asia
UNSW double-murder trial begins
Tuesday May 16, 2006

The high-profile Ram Tiwary double-murder trial has begun in the New South Wales Supreme Court in Sydney.

The former Singapore Armed Forces scholar is charged with clubbing his two Singaporean flat-mates to death with a baseball bat on the morning of Sept 15, 2003.

Tiwary, who was a 24-year-old student at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) at the time, has pleaded not guilty to murdering fellow UNSW students Tony Tan Poh Chuan and Tay Chow Lyang, both 26.

The murder trial is expected to last up to six weeks.

Prosecutor Tim Hoyle told the jury that Tiwary had fallen behind on his rent and owed his flatmates A$5,000 ($6,050).

But beyond this possible trigger, the prosecutor admitted his case was built on circumstantial and forensic evidence.

The court heard Tiwary had bought the baseball bat used in the attack a few days before the murder and there were specks of blood on Tiwary’s hands and feet.

However, defence lawyer Peter Doyle reminded the jury that there were no witnesses and Tiwary had not fled the scene.

The blood specks may have been picked up when Tiwary checked one of the victims for signs of life, he argued.

Tiwary, who was the one who called the police, had claimed that he heard one of his flatmates running past his bedroom crying out for help, followed by a loud metallic thud.

When police arrived, they found Mr Tay dead on the floor with a massive injury to the back of his head.

The other victim, Mr Tan, was found dead near the front door of the flat.

He had been felled by a heavy blow and was also stabbed in the neck.

The prosecutor says both men suffered numerous defensive wounds to their hands.

This entry was posted on Thursday, June 22nd, 2006 at 1:16 am and is filed under thoughts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 Responses to "Life deals an unfortunate hand"

Kevin Says:
June 22nd, 2006 at 10:33 am
Pretty nuts man... gotta remember to look at the big picture whenever you’re angry. Something which might not look stupid at that moment, might turn out so later.

Biao Says:
June 23rd, 2006 at 1:56 am
I don’t mind doing something stupid when I go nuts but I think committing murder is several leagues above stupid.

I should make sure my response levels is not this:
1) Pout
2) Punch wall
3) Beat the shit out of people who annoy you.

Catholic Writings » More about Tiwary Says:
July 1st, 2006 at 12:22 am
[...] I got a comment from an ex-platoon mate of Tiwary’s in OCS with a link. Instead of leaving it in the comments, I decided to post it up here because there are some things that don’t sit well with me. [...]

tipper Says:
July 28th, 2006 at 12:29 am
I had relatively close contact with Puneet. Back in his secondary school days, when he fails to do his homework, the teacher would scold him. He would then retaliate with physical threats. When he assulted a teacher in front of the class, his father, who was an admin of the same school, scolded the TEACHER for scolding his son.

I’m not surprised at this murder incident.


July 1, 2006
More about Tiwary
Filed under: General, News - catholicwriter @ 4:04 pm

I got a comment from an ex-platoon mate of Tiwary’s in OCS with a link. Instead of leaving it in the comments, I decided to post it up here because there are some things that don’t sit well with me.

The news reports portray Tiwary as a liar, a thief, and an overall bad person. But that doesn’t make him a murderer.

The jury took five days to come to a unanimous decision on Tiwary’s fate. That means that there were objections to his guilt. To me, I would say that the evidence provided is insufficient to convict him.

One reason is the lack of a motivation for murder. The court’s conclusion is that Tiwary murdered one of his housemates for money, and eliminated the other to silence him.

Two questions arise: would any sane person murder another person for a mere $5,000? And it’s not like his family is poor, if he’s able to go to Sydney to study.

Second, the prosecutor says that blood from only one victim was found on the murder weapons - a knife and a bat.

The prosecutor said that Tiwary could have washed the blood after killing his first victim. But the defendant pointed out that if Tiwary was coolheaded enough to do that the first time, why not the second?

Evidence showed that there was no sign of blood in the sink pipes or any marks, and neither was there any signs on the murder weapons of them having been washed. Based on this, the defendant believes that there is a second set of murder weapons out there.

Another issue brought up is that the police did not send the murder weapons for testing at the labs. They only sent blood samples found on the murder weapon.

I feel that’s sloppy investigation and that there could be another murderer on the loose in Sydney because a proper investigation was not carried out.

There’s just so many loose ends that need to be looked into... and I think it’s just wrong to judge a person based on his personality. Granted that the jury probably didn’t do that, but that’s what the news reports making readers do. They’re making people go, "No wonder he’s a murderer lah, he’s a liar, a thief, and hot-tempered some more. Sure guilty one!"

in logic, this is a fallacy named ad hominem.
Comment by reginaxie - July 1, 2006 @ 11:43 pm

Hey, I remember seeing a similar thing during the GE period...
Comment by catholicwriter - July 2, 2006 @ 12:05 am

I read your story, and I believe what you say. But that’s only one side of him.

I had relatively close contact with Puneet. Back in his secondary school days, when he fails to do his homework, the teacher would scold him. He would then retaliate with physical threats. When he assulted a teacher in front of the class, his father, who was an admin of the same school, scolded the TEACHER for scolding his son.

I’m not surprised at this murder incident.
Comment by tipper - July 28, 2006 @ 4:31 pm

Anonymous said...

The last time I was in close proximity with a baseball bat was pretty damn long ago. They must have vanished together with the Empire East of Suez.

One made of aluminium must be pretty light for a weapon. The interesting thing about the case was CSI Sydney mishandled. If the bat never made it to forensics, who's to know whether it had not been washed after Tay got his brain bashed in?

Note also that in one double murder the method was strangulation (this is not a WWW match), and in the other, bashing with blunt object.

Another thing is OCS. Whether it is inferior to an Al-Qaeda training stint?

Anonymous said...

I mean WWF.

daikor said...

Any IMF protest might turn rowdy and scare away shoppers. Retailers would be affected. 16,000 delegates are expected for the IMF meeting and that means a lot of tourist dollars that could be lost if there are disruptive demonstrations.

Ⓜatilah $ingapura⚠️ said...

God Bless Political Assassins! Every politician who got assasinated, deserved it! (including Ghandi)